I just got done watching “Who Killed The Electric Car?” This film explores the brief life of the EV1 and other cars spawned by the birth of the EV1. The EV1 was an electric car produced by GM and marketed in California and Arizona. After a few years it was not only discontinued but GM refused to renew any leases (and they had not sold any of the vehicles. All the cars were rounded up and virtually all of them were destroyed. This film explores the question of why. It’s a very good question and their approach is much more compelling than I expected.
To my surprise I think we find more of the blame rests with the car companies, chiefly GM than it does big oil. They also put some blame on C.A.R.B. (California Air Resources Board) and their reversal of the mandate that car companies offer a zero emissions car. I think the problem began when C.A.R.B. made such a mandate. Here GM comes out with a product and it’s immediately written into law that this product must exist. The California state government has a history of doing essentially everything wrong and this was just one more case of that. (Seriously, so many of the documentaries I’ve seen have related to problems in California).
The filmmakers do not go far enough in-depth telling us the problems with the EV1. We never learn exactly what it would cost to purchase and maintain. At one point a former GM EV employee throws out $250-$500 a month, so I assume that was the lease cost. But they make no reference to how much it costs to purchase the other required gear, such as the charger. I’m also not sure what the practical range really was or how much charge time it needed. Of course if GM would have utilized all the battery technology they had I’m given the impression it would have been perfectly acceptable. The average distance driven in a day is under 30 miles for the American driver. Additionally they talk about how “fast” it is but we never see it actually going fast and I’m quite unsure of the top speed. “Fast enough that you could get a ticket” isn’t saying a lot. But I’m sure it had more faults than the film let on. Enough that the cars should have been systematically collected and destroyed? I don’t see how that would be the case. But I doubt they were mother earth’s savior. Motortrend has more on that.
That being said I feel like it was a very attractive option that should have remained on the market, but GM killed it and it’s a shame. In the film they also slam hydrogen fuel cells. Joseph J. Romm, Ph.D author of The Hype of Hydrogen presents us with his case.
“The 5 Miracles For A Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car”
1. Current fuel cell car costs $1,000,000
2. Not enough room for hydrogen fuel
3. Hydrogen fuel is expensive
4. Need fueling infrastructure
5. Competing technologies must not improve
He expounds on these in greater detail in the film, and they are very real issues and seem insurmountable. Despite all this, Jamie Lee Curtis, celebrity, and wife of a former EV1 driver is all about the hydrogen cars. Then, after she gushes about her hydrogen car, she goes off on whoever in Orange County penalized a woman for having fake grass. Now I’m all for the right to fake grass. BUT, if I’m trying to be green, what is the carbon foot print on fake grass? It produces no oxygen and is produced in carbon producing factories I assume. Am I wrong? Someone explain to me why she is so into fake grass.
Another celebrity, Mel Gibson, had an EV1 and is featured in the film. Surprisingly he did not blame the EV1’s disappearance on the Jews.